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From left to right: Le Xie, Agee Springer, Kevin Yung, Luis Diaz-Cesar and Lee Bratcher.
Leading industry professionals and professors from Texas A&M University discussed the impact of blockchain on the power grid. | Image: Texas A&M Engineering

To bridge the gap between the energy and blockchain industries, Texas A&M University experts teamed up with industry partners to create the Blockchain and Energy Research Consortium (BERC). The goal is to explore new research and connect individuals across various areas of expertise.

A continuation of this collaborative and cross-disciplinary effort took the form of a BERC workshop in Rudder Tower on Sept. 13. Researchers from Texas A&M and leading industry professionals with expertise in energy, power and cryptocurrency came together to discuss the impact of blockchain (bitcoin mining) on the power grid.

Bitcoin mining requires an immense amount of energy to operate via enormous computers and specially made chips. In fact, one of the world’s largest bitcoin mining facilities is in Rockdale, Texas, consuming several times more power than the city of College Station.

“We want to understand how blockchain affects the energy grid and how the energy grid can better serve this new emerging demand for power,” said Dr. Le Xie, electrical and computer engineering professor and Energy Institute associate director of energy digitization. “We spoke about focusing on providing technical support for integrating these cryptocurrency miners into the power grid. We appreciate the support from the Texas A&M Engineering Experiment Station, the Texas A&M Energy Institute and the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering. We are creating the impact that the industry can really benefit from.”

Additional speakers at the workshop from the electrical and computer engineering department included Dr. Costas N. Georghiades, interim department head, and Dr. Prasad Enjeti, professor. From the Mays Business School, Dr. Korok Ray, associate professor, also spoke. Graduate teaching assistant Yuting Cai, research assistant Hasan Ibrahim and graduate student Anindita Samanta joined the discussion as well.

The industry professional panelists included Agee Springer, large flexible load interconnection manager at the Electric Reliability Council of Texas; Luis Diaz-Cesar, vice president of engineering and construction at the bitcoin mining company Riot Platforms, Inc.; Lee Bratcher, founder and president of the Texas Blockchain Council; and Kevin Yung, chief engineer and development officer of Priority Power Management, an energy company.

For more information about the BERC, visit the consortium’s website.